Book #49 in the series Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.

Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book to see how wrong you are.

THE DIVERSION

Animorphs #49
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Because the Yeerks have built a computer that analyzes blood and have been looking for mysterious samples, the Animorphs realize their disguise as "Andalite bandits" might be over. The Yeerks probably know they're human. They develop a plan to sneak into the facility that's testing their blood--from samples they've left all along bleeding at every fight--and they find that a computer has identified Tobias's blood as being a partial match with his mother's. It's only a matter of time before all of their families are tracked down, so the Animorphs have to make a heartbreaking decision: it's time to let their families in on the secret and abduct them from their homes, off to live in the Hork-Bajir valley. Tobias is dazed by the information about his mother; she lives blocks from him, but never contacted him and he doesn't know why.

So the Animorphs go around breaking the news to their parents and getting them packed off to safety, but they fail with Jake's family because Yeerks already got his parents, and Jake finds that out the hard way. Tobias goes off to try to protect his mother and finds his friends are on his side. Turns out Loren is blind and has amnesia from an accident, and she uses a guide dog. They use the dog as a way to make contact with her (by impersonating him with a morph), and Tobias finally gets to meet and talk to his mother. By using an extraordinarily risky plan, they manage to get Loren to safety too, but they have to give her morphing abilities. She escapes with Tobias as a hawk, and when she returns to her human form she can see again. Tobias is overjoyed to have a mother, and he assures Jake that they'll save his family.

About this book:

Narrator: Tobias

New known controllers:

  • Employees of Midtown Bio-Services
  • An elderly woman who leads the attack at the blood bank and other places
  • Jake's parents
  • A street woman
  • A teenage boy at a bus stop

New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: None
  • Cassie: None
  • Marco: Dog (German shepherd--Champ)
  • Rachel: Dog (German shepherd--Champ)
  • Ax: None
  • Tobias: Dog (German shepherd--Champ)

Notable:

  • This book was ghostwritten by Lisa Harkrader.

  • Rachel brings Tobias some food and says "I know you have to eat it as a hawk." This suggests that at this late stage in the game the author IS saying morphed people have to eat in their natural bodies and that eating while in a morphed body will not last. This seems to contradict what they did in a previous book when they ate while morphed in order to sustain themselves.

  • There's a line that seems a bit inaccurate: "When we'd rescued Marco's mom, we'd also had to rescue his dad." That suggests the rescue of his dad was because they rescued his mom, but his dad was actually taken to safety first, and it was pretty much unrelated to his mom's liberation; they don't even receive word that Visser One was to be taken to Earth for execution until after his dad has already been taken to the free Hork-Bajir valley.

  • The Animorphs stage a ruckus in order to get a chance to disable the Gleet Bio-Filter, which is the only thing stopping them from getting inside the building they want to investigate. When Rachel succeeds in doing this, a helpful computerized voice announces that the bio-filter is deactivated and has gone into "immediate shutdown." This makes it sound very contrived and awfully convenient. Why would an error message announce exactly the information they need to know? Seems more like a smart way to program it would be that if it goes offline, it sends a message to someone who can fix it or someone who's in charge of security. After very obvious commotion goes down outside (and the bio-filter is offline), it also seems ridiculous that a guard inside doesn't suspect anything and everyone just goes about their business as if nothing unusual just happened at the door.

  • Another contrived event happens immediately after the Animorphs gain entry to the facility: Marco has a new morphing outfit, and the shirt of it happens to be the color of the armbands that elite Hork-Bajir guards wear. They decide to make use of this coincidence and pretend to be those guards, even though they hadn't planned it. Using the shirt as a solution would have been a much less coincidental happening if they'd just planned it ahead of time, because it was a good idea.

  • It's obvious from previous incidents that the Yeerks can tell Hork-Bajir apart pretty easily, as Visser One (previously Visser Three) knew certain Hork-Bajir at a glance. Considering that, it seems fishy that the Animorphs assume they can just slap on blue armbands and no one will question them. It's like assuming you could morph any human and put on their clothes and everyone would accept you as that human.

  • Marco jokes that the Yeerks are "from another galaxy." Considering the Andalite home world is only 82 light years away from Earth and it was never suggested that the Yeerk home world was incredibly far away from the Andalites, it's unlikely that they're from outside the galaxy. The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and 1,000 light years thick, and the closest other galaxies to the Milky Way are at least 25,000 light years away.

  • This book has a Pokémon reference. Rachel's little sisters think Ax is a Pokémon.

  • When Tobias morphs into Champ, Loren's guide dog, he refers to knowing he's Champ and knowing he has "responsibilities." This suggests he has the memories and training of the guide dog, which isn't consistent with the morphing rules. Being responsible the way guide dogs are trained is not innate.

  • The whole scene in the convenience store is very awkwardly written and hard to believe in. There is no way a couple of hoodlums harassing a blind woman and temporarily kidnapping her dog would be responded to by the blind woman with silence. Loren doesn't speak the whole time the unfamiliar teenagers are messing with her, taking stuff out of her basket, or leading her dog away from her into another room. Her only acknowledgment that it even happened comes after the dog is returned to her. If she cares about being able to get home or about her dog's life and well-being, she'd never let disrespectful teenage boys take the dog away from her. Seems like any blind person would scream for the clerk to call the cops or something.

  • It seems unlikely, also, that Tobias would suspect his mother of being a Controller at all considering she's blind and the Yeerks love the sense of sight. They wouldn't want a damaged host.

  • Another "way-too-convenient" happening: Tobias manages to find, open, and read the very piece of paper that tells him his mother has amnesia, in a claim form from an insurance company. The narration acknowledges that a reunion involving amnesia is like something on a soap opera . . . but his finding the paper (and not being worried about rooting around in such a way that he wakes his mother) is a bit ridiculous. He also stays there the entire night and his friends don't come to check on him or make sure he hasn't been captured along with his mother, which is especially ridiculous considering Yeerks are watching her house.

  • Several of Applegate's books make blindness out to be horrific--mostly from the point of view of Yeerks who are blind in their natural state and then become sighted creatures by taking over host bodies. They hate the idea of going back to blindness after being sighted, and they harp on it a lot. But in this book a human does it too--Loren even claims she doesn't want to go back to being a blind human while she's DYING AS A DISMEMBERED HAWK. Perhaps Applegate and the ghostwriters of Animorphs ought to take some sensitivity courses before acting as though blindness is a fate worse than death.

    Rachel's father is left as a dangling unknown. They didn't go after him and bring him to safety; Rachel simply said he would find his way there and they didn't follow up on it.

Best lines:

Rachel: "You know, Tobias, we have very weird dates."

Marco: "I've been too busy saving the planet."
Jake: "The planet is grateful."

Tobias: What kind of self-respecting hawk lets his girlfriend feed him?

Marco: "Unless you count the Victoria's Secret Web page, there are no babes in my life anymore."
Tobias: "There were no babes in your old life."

Jake: "Then mingle into the crowd, do not call attention to yourself, and wait patiently for the rest of us."
Rachel: "Wait patiently. Right. I can do that."
Marco: "She. Cannot. Do. That."

Tobias: The Yeerks were looking for humans who were related to human Animorphs, and where did they get the match? From a bird with no family.

Rachel: "Stay at my house tonight. You shouldn't be alone."
Tobias: "Why not? I've always been alone."

Ax: "They think I am a 'pokey man.' I have told them I am an Andalite and am actually quite swift, but they insist they need to train me."

Ax: "Do not worry. We are irresponsible teenage hoodlums, possibly gang members, but you are not in any danger."

Ax: "There. I have now shamelessly destroyed the symmetry of this shelf, undoing hours of labor by underpaid store employees. If you could see me, you would be frightened."
Marco: "If she could see you, she'd have you committed."

Marco: "ARE YOU INSANE?"
Tobias: "Yeah. Aren't you?"



Next book: The Ultimate, Animorphs #50

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